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Foreign Media Harassed in China Earthquake Zone

Posted by: Frederik Balfour on May 10, 2009

A year ago, when Sichuan province was hit by a massive earthquake, China loosened restrictions on foreign media, a move welcomed by human rights advocates who normally pillory China for muzzling the press. It was a wise and humanitarian decision: thanks to somewhat unfettered coverage, China was able to mobilize a huge amount of support both within the country and from abroad.

However as the first anniversary of the tragic temblor (May 12) approaches, foreign media have come up against a good deal of obstruction by local officials, and in at least one case, that of Financial Times correspondent Jamil Anderlini, who was subjected to physical harassment as he tried to do his job.

Fortunately for Anderlini, and not so fortunately for local goons (and police who stood by while it happened) who tried to rough him up, most of the scuffle was captured on video and can be seen on the FT’s website. What struck me most about the clip was the look of despair and resignation on the face of the woman Anderlini was prevented from interviewing: a mother who lost her child to the earthquake.

I know Anderline quite well, having attended yoga classes with him: he is not a confrontational person, and clearly kept his head throughout his ordeal. For other examples of reporters getting harassed visit China Digital Times.

Reader Comments

mahendra dash

May 10, 2009 12:57 PM

This is a common topic that concerns all media person.But we should also understand the media ethics.What you expect to face while you are going to make a war footage in a hostile zone,or just at the time of some natural calamity?The machinery is more concerned about safety of its people than allowing media to give a good coverage.One might have noticed that some media person still take advantage of their close liasoning with local administration ,convince them and get the opportunity to cover the event.We can not generalize it as a thumb rule that media person has the right to do anything.Harassment is acceptable truth.But still reports sneak out ,how?
How we know about the earthquake?
Harsh realities abounds and there the dignity of media to stand for truth lies,to bring back the reality to people at any cost.As such China is a different country ,but a lot of change has taken place.Ask people about coverage of Tianamenn Square,they can better explain.


May 11, 2009 12:09 AM

Why doesn't this guy think: So many journalists from other countries are in this area, why only he got trouble?

frederik balfour

May 11, 2009 12:17 AM

The point here is that journalists are being prevented from getting access to families trying to tell their stories about the quake. Have a look at this dispatch by a reporter from the Independent.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China has chronicled other cases of harassment---Anderlini is not an isolated case.


May 13, 2009 5:51 PM

I looked at the video, it the identity of the person wasn't explained, and the local police does seems to holding the person back from attacks. (though from unmarked black car, it does suggest some form of mafia/organized crime person) If kind of reminds of a scene a journalist encounter yunnan, when he enters into what seems to be drug trafficking center and pushed back.


December 19, 2009 2:27 PM

It reminds me of something. Just after the earthquake, media didn't care about the rescue efforts, but whether some officials in China should be punished - only after some time does the media realize that there are still thousands of people dying. Then the news came that one journalist, requesting a seat on a rescue helicopter (rescue helicopter is scarce in China, and a seat on it means one more life can be saved), was nearly killed by the rotors of the heli - she said she just didn't know the danger of walking to that rotor. She was saved, however, a PLA soldier saved her, sacrificing her lives. These journalists were just trouble makers at that time. Now they are back.

Beauty Salon Plano

February 17, 2010 10:08 PM

Natural calamity means natural disaster which is caused by nature. Every year many country falls victim to various natural calamities. They are flood, earthquakes & many other natural calamities. The effects of the natural calamities beggar description. They leave a vast trail of devastation. The affected people & animals suffer untold sufferings. They cause heavy damage to our life & properties. Houses are destroyed, cattle are washed away, crops are greatly damaged and trees are uprooted. Thousands of people and other animals remain without food for many days. The after effect of some natural calamities are more serious. Famine breaks out. Many people & animals die for want of food. The prices are all necessary things go up. Many dangerous diseases like cholera, typhoid and dysentery etc. break out in an epidemic form. By raising public awareness and taking necessary precautionary measures and steps natural calamities can be prevented. The government and all the conscious citizens should come forward with concerted efforts to prevent natural calamities.

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